Although GrandFamilies Of America’s prime focus of providing resources/education to those relatives either raising relative children, seeking to obtain custody of relative children, or who have concerns about the custodial relationship of their relative children, we do realize that a grandparent who is being denied visitation with their grandchildren, is a very stressful situation. It is also an issue that continues to be in flux across the country. Because we are very sympathetic to those finding themselves in that situation, we have attempted to provide some very basic information on this subject as it stands across the country at this time.
We will attempt to provide some basic information as it relates to visitation here. The basic information one needs to start with is to be aware that visitation can only be awarded by the court in those states where there are grandparent visitation statues on the books in that party’s respective state. To find out whether or not your state has a visitation statue, you can simply type in your state on the search bar on your computer followed with the words “grandparent visitation”, and then follow the prompts on that particular site.
EXAMPLE: Internet Search Engine: Maryland grandparent visitation statue
If there is not a visitation statue in your state, then it is likely you would not be successful in court, as this would indicate your particular state, does not recognize that as a right in your state. Another very important piece of information to be aware of at the outset, is that there are actually three types of visitation situations and unfortunately our court systems, do not often seek to look at cases on a case by case basis. Those visitation categories as we look at them are as follows:
• Those grandparents who have had a long and healthy relationship with their grandchildren which has arbitrarily been severed due to death, divorce, etc. One could demonstrate in these circumstances, that it is their moral obligation to continue those relationships to protect the family ties and heritage of the children involved.
• Those Grandparents (or other relatives) who have been the primary 24/7 custodians for their grandchildren for some length of time, and then for one reason or another the court has returned the child/children to their biological parent(s). and again make the case, that it is their moral obligation to continue those relationships to protect the family ties and heritage of the children involved.
• The last instance would be the one where in our opinion it would near to impossible to be successful in having a court order visitation. That would be where both parents are functioning as a family and living with the children and both object to visitation. Even in the case where the state in this case does have a visitation statue, the courts are loath to become involved in what they perceive as a healthy family. The other instance would be where a grandparent(s) have never had a relationship with the child/children involved and suddenly seek to establish one. The court is going to ask, “where have you been prior to filing”? Another hurdle that is hard to overcome is where there are newborn children, which makes it hard to make the argument that you have had an established relationship with the child in question.